White House chief of staff John Kelly learned several weeks ago that multiple White House aides, including staff secretary Rob Porter, would be denied full security clearances, Politico reported Thursday night, citing an unnamed administration official.
Kelly planned to fire those who were denied security clearances, but had not yet done so, according to Politico.
The chief of staff has come under intense scrutiny this week over the White House’s handling of public allegations from Porter’s ex-wives that he abused them. When the allegations first surfaced on Tuesday, the White House, including Kelly, stood by Porter and defended his character.
By Thursday, Porter had left the White House permanently as attention on the abuse allegations increased. White House spokesman Raj Shah admitted Thursday that the administration “could have done better” in responding to the accusations about Porter’s past behavior.
Kelly learned some time in the fall that abuse allegations from Porter’s ex-wives were holding up his security clearance, but the chief of staff did not act to investigate the matter at the time, according to the Washington Post.
White House Counsel Don McGahn was also aware of the allegations but did not act. McGahn learned that Rob Porter’s ex-wives were going to make negative allegations about him about a year ago, and discovered more specifics about the accusations as the year went on, but he never initiated a review of the staff secretary before he resigned this week, the Washington Post reported Thursday night. In June, the FBI told the White House about the accusations, but it’s not clear whether that news reached McGahn. The White House counsel learned in the fall that abuse allegations were delaying Porter’s security clearance, but he agreed that Porter should stay on, per the Washington Post.
NEW: @cbsnews confirms that last January, Porter told White House counsel Don Mcgahn that a background check might find problems. In June, the FBI sent a file to Mcgahn's office, including claims by the ex- wives that porter abused them. pic.twitter.com/j4dKmSLRKm
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 9, 2018
In November, an ex-girlfriend of Porter’s contacted McGahn to warn him about allegations of domestic abuse, but the White House counsel again didn’t act, according the Washington Post.